The incredible shrinking Democratic Party

Predictions of doom for the Republican Party are all the rage in the media, but the real story of this election cycle (so far) is the collapse of Democrat turnout.  Some of this is no doubt due to the difficulty in generating enthusiasm after more than 7 years of foreign policy disasters and historically low economic growth under Obama.  Another factor is the sheer unappealing nature of Hillary Clinton.  Bernie Sanders is the sole person in the party capable of generating excitement, playing to the far left wing and youth after freebies (and so badly educated by the leftist educational establishment that they do not understand the disaster that socialism brings).  But even Bernie’s enthusiastic crowds may be driving away more moderate Democrats.

Two analysts, Michael Barone (here and here) and the Huffington Post’s Zach Carter, have pulled together what ought to scare the pantsuit off Hillary.  (OK, sorry, that’s an image that won’t go away quickly enough.)

Consider the South Carolina Dem Primary.  Barone:

Many commentators have noticed that blacks constituted a higher percentage of South Carolina Democratic voters this year, 65 percent according to the exit poll, than they did in 2008, 55 percent. But this represents not a surge of blacks into the electorate, but rather the fact that black turnout declined by only 18 percent, whereas white turnout fell nearly in half, by 44 percent.

A 44% decline in support from the largest ethnic group in the country by far is yuuuge.

Carter agrees:

Democrats in 2016 are only getting about two-thirds of the primary votes that they received eight years ago.

Republican turnout in the South Carolina primary, by contrast, was up more than 70 percent from 2008.

South Carolina's turnout numbers are not an anomaly. They're consistent with other primaries to date. Republicans are psyched. Democrats are demoralized.

Presidential elections increasingly hinge on each party's ability to turn out the faithful. There simply are not many truly independent voters who cast their ballots for different parties in different cycles. A big chunk of voters who identify as independents do so not because they cherish a moderate middle ground between two parties, but because they see their own party as insufficiently committed to its ideological principles. In this era, lousy primary turnout spells big trouble for the general election.

The poor Democratic turnout figures are not an indictment of Clinton alone. Maybe the DNC's decision to bury the party's debates on weekends and holidays helped Republicans generate more early enthusiasm with primetime coverage. And part of Sanders' pitch, of course, is his insistence that progressive energy will bring out high numbers of enthusiastic voters that an old party insider just can't compete with. It's a good pitch. But so far, it isn't happening.

There is still time, of course, for the Stupid Party to blow the election.  Running an establishment candidate against Trump, if he gets the nomination, for instance.

Twenty-sixteen ought to be the most winnable election for the GOP since Carter’s disastrous presidency.  But only if it can only unify itself, and that is far from a sure bet.